An Egyptian colleague of mine had a recent post on Facebook saying that if the Norwegian who killed 90+ people was a Muslim, the press would have declared him a terrorist. Instead, Reuters called him an ‘assailant’ and an ‘attacker’; BBC, CNN, and Al Jazeera called him a ‘gunman’. His question: is ‘terrorist’ a term reserved for Muslims? Most religions teach charity, tolerance, and kindness toward others. Then why do too many people in the name of religion criticize or even demonize others with different views? A 2010 poll in 24 countries found that over half – 52% – believe that religious beliefs promote intolerance and exacerbate divisions. Too often it seems that being right becomes more important than living one’s beliefs. And yet who is to say that you are right and ‘they’ are wrong? None of us can know for certain what is behind the universe and our existence. We can only believe what we have come to believe, however we have come to believe it. The reality is we can be no more sure of our beliefs than others are about theirs. I’m a Christian. The Jesus of the Bible was an early civil rights leader—associating with others whom society’s rules said he should not. Therefore, I will live out my beliefs the best I can while respecting the beliefs of others. And Anders Behring Breivik is indeed a terrorist.
“In the practice of tolerance, one’s enemy is the best teacher.” –Dalai Lama